TransLink referendum: a lack of leadership?

Soap box warning.  I’m standing up on one.

With the BC Liberals back in government, Christie Clark promised during her election campaign that she would hold a referendum on how best to fund TransLink.  At least that’s the idea.  There’s no specifics at this point.

However, a referendum on tough spending priorities may not be the best way to come to a decision.  Some of the issues facing the Lower Mainland is a short fall in funding for transit in general. What new projects should go ahead and in which order?  Should a UBC-Broadway line be built before a Surrey Light Rail Transit line?  Should they even be in competition with each other.  A referendum could potentially pit one project against another.  It would create division in Metro Vancouver.  It all depends what the referendum is going to ask about.

I think with transit issues, there should be a central plan and the Province and TransLink should stick to that plan.  To introduce a referendum invites a wrench into those plans.  I think it’s an unnecessary expense to poll the public.  If most of the public had a choice, they would not pay for any project except that which benefits themselves.  Human nature.  Then the tough decisions of building key transit infrastructure would just get shelved.  That’s not going to benefit anyone in the long run.

If a TransLink referendum does take place, I feel like the BC Liberals have abandoned a position of leadership and public interests.  A referendum will not solve any problems.  It will just flesh out the same regional parochialism in TransLink that the BC Liberals have been trying to stamp out over the past decade.

End soap box. Thanks for bearing with me.

I also recommend reading Craig McInnes’ opinion piece in the Vancouver Sun about the TransLink referendum.

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One comment

  1. You know, a referendum isn’t actually such a bad idea. Other than the fact it costs a few thousand dollars, As you say, if the right questions are asked, a referendum can save millions of dollars. For example, Measure R in Los Angeles secured many years of funding.

    If the question is about sales tax increase of 0.5%, or about congestion pricing to fund transit, I would whole-hearty support the vote. But that seems unlikely. I hope it doesn’t end up being a surrey vs vancouver vote, a LRT vs RRT vote.

    The best thing we can do is to pressure politicians before the question is determined, as once they’ve decided, they’ll likely not change it.

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